Since even before he played in the National Football League, Eddie Moore knew he wanted to give back to the community that helped mold him. So much so, in fact, that following an All-SEC career at the University of Tennessee, Moore didn't wait until his pro days were over before he began helping young people in and around his hometown of South Pittsburg.
Moore followed five years as an NFL linebacker by veering away from the game, working as the branch manager for a local bank for several years before realizing he just wasn't as energized about the corporate world. So he returned to his athletic roots by opening a training facility based in Knoxville but with a twist.
Instead of working only with Knoxville-area kids, Moore and a group of other former athletes from football, baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports also will schedule trips to rural areas to tutor youngsters in sports and other issues. As part of that, they will talk about taking care of academics early on so the young athletes can qualify for college.
And in Moore's mind, there wasn't a better place to begin his new venture than back in his hometown, so this weekend Moore will host about a dozen former Volunteers for a two-day youth-centered event that includes personal interaction and football instruction.
Those players, including Al Wilson, Eric Westmoreland, Troy Fleming, Gerald Riggs Jr., DeAngelo Lloyd, Steven Marsh, Jabari Davis, Corey Larkins, Keyon Whiteside, Dunstan Kendrick and Moore, will be at a private meet-and-greet at the South Pittsburg Princess Theater on Friday at 7 p.m. CDT. That will be followed by an on-stage question-and-answer session between players and fans in the theater's auditorium, and the following morning each of those ex-Vols will help with Moore's youth football skills camp at Kimball Park.
"These type camps happen all the time in bigger cities but never in a rural area, so I wanted to give the people and kids from my hometown a chance to experience getting to interact with guys who've played the game at the highest level," Moore said. "The social event the night before is just something to bring the big-city feel to my small town.
"I'm really excited just for the fact that my friendship is good enough with so many of those players that they are willing to take time out of their schedule to come to my town and support me."
Space is limited, so Moore is encouraging people to pre-register at www.domooresports.com, which also will get registrants' names placed on the list for a grand prize drawing. Parents who want to register their children the day of the event can do so at 7:30 a.m. CDT, and the four-hour camp begins at 8:30.
And following his plan for all future camps and training sessions, Moore and the other former Vols will instruct the kids about more than just football.
"Most of the kids we'll work with aren't going to play sports past the high school level, but there are lessons you can learn from playing that carry over into how you approach schoolwork and some tough choices just about every kid will face," Moore said. "I know I could have been great in that business, but it wasn't my passion.
"That's something we want to talk to the kids about: Find your passion and follow that. Once I stopped running from my calling, I found my passion. This is how I fell in love with football again. I had gotten away from it because it's such a business at the level I had played. But I love working with kids."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.